If you’re travelling to Turkey, having the right SIM card can save you a lot of money. We review the best value SIM cards for using your mobile phone in Turkey.
Each year, more than 2.5 million Brits make a visit to Turkey. Whether you’re there to experience the culture or to enjoy the seaside resorts, you’ll probably want to use your mobile phone whilst you’re there.
Having access to your mobile phone whilst you’re travelling in Turkey will make it a lot easier to stay in touch with friends and family. It can also help you to navigate around (e.g. finding nearby restaurants and attractions on Google Maps) and to check-in for your flights online.
Thankfully, it’s now really easy to use your mobile phone in Turkey with packages available from just £15 for 8 days of usage when you roam on a UK-based SIM card. Alternatively, you can buy a local SIM card in Turkey if you’re travelling for an extended amount of time or if you want a larger allowance of data. In this article, we’ll look at the multiple ways to use your smartphone in Turkey and the best value SIM cards for roaming whilst you’re there.
|Best Turkey SIM Card:||VOXI by Vodafone (UK-based SIM)|
|Recommended Plan:||£15 for 8 days usage in Turkey
(up to 2GB data, 100 minutes & 100 texts)
|Network Coverage:||99% population coverage in Turkey|
|Compatibility:||Works with most unlocked smartphones (including iPhone & Android)|
|Free SIM Card:||Get a VOXI SIM card (with £10 top-up) →|
Using Your Mobile Phone In Turkey
If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, there are two ways to use your mobile phone whilst you’re there:
- You can roam on a UK-based SIM card. This is the easiest and most straightforward way to use your mobile phone in Turkey. You’ll have a UK-based phone number (+44) and you’ll pay your UK mobile network for usage.
- You can buy a Turkish SIM card on arrival. If you’re travelling for an extended amount of time, you can get a local SIM card from one of the Turkish networks. This tends to be more hassle as you’ll need to buy your SIM card on arrival. You’ll also need to register the SIM card with your passport.
The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of the two options:
|Roaming on your UK SIM card||Buying a Turkish SIM card on arrival|
|Best for most short-term visitors to Turkey.
||Best for extended trips & heavy data users.
|You’ll have a UK-based number (beginning with +44).||You’ll have a Turkish number (beginning with +90).|
|We recommend VOXI’s Pay As You Go SIM. Add a Global Roaming Extra from £15 before you depart.||Choose a SIM card from Turkcell, Vodafone TR or Türk Telekom. Prices can vary by store & negotiation.|
|You’ll need to set up & activate your UK SIM card before you depart.||You’ll need to buy & activate your Turkish SIM card on arrival (e.g. at the airport or a phone store).|
|There’s no need to register your phone or SIM card with the authorities in Turkey.||You’ll need to register the SIM card with official ID. Your phone also needs to be registered within 120 days.|
|Inclusive calls to both UK and Turkish phone numbers.||Inclusive calls to Turkish phone numbers only. Extra charges apply for calling UK-based numbers.|
|You can continue to use your SIM card in the UK after the end of your trip.||The SIM card you buy from Turkey will normally stop working after you return to the UK.|
For most people, we’d normally recommend roaming on a UK-based SIM card, unless you’re planning an extended trip to Turkey that will last for more than two weeks. Alternatively, a SIM card from Turkey might also be more suitable if you’re planning to use lots of data during your trip (more than 4GB).
The best SIM card for roaming in Turkey is VOXI’s Pay As You Go SIM. You’ll need to activate it with a UK plan (starting from £10 for one month’s usage). You can then add a Global Roaming Extra to your SIM card before you depart (either £15 for 8 days usage or £25 for 15 days usage in Turkey). There’s no contract and no credit check with the SIM card.
Roaming On Your UK SIM Card
The most straightforward way of using your mobile phone in Turkey is through international roaming on a UK-based SIM card. Although you might end up paying a little bit more, there are three major benefits to roaming on a UK-based SIM:
- You can set it up before you depart. There’s no need to find a phone shop on arrival and to negotiate with the staff there when buying and registering your SIM card. You’ll also know your phone number in advance, making it easier to stay in touch with others.
- There’s no need to register your SIM card & mobile phone with the Turkish authorities. If you buy a local SIM card in Turkey, you’ll need to register it with the government authorities. This normally involves providing your passport and filling out a registration form when you buy your SIM card. In addition, mobile phones with a Turkish SIM card inside are subject to a tax payment of about 2,000 Turkish Lira (around £88) following an initial grace period of 120 days. This doesn’t apply if you’re roaming on a UK-based SIM card.
- You’ll be able to call both UK and Turkish phone numbers using your inclusive minutes. In contrast, most local Turkish SIM cards only include an allowance of minutes for calling other phone numbers in Turkey.
Best Turkey Roaming Deals
VOXI is currently our recommended mobile network for roaming in Turkey. If you’re using a VOXI SIM card inside your mobile phone, you’ll have a choice of the following Global Roaming Extras that can be used in Turkey:
valid for 8 days
valid for 15 days
The Global Roaming Extras are a one-off purchase on your VOXI SIM card – they won’t renew automatically (see the full terms and conditions). However, you can decide to purchase another one if you require (e.g. for longer trips away or if you’ve already used up all of the data).
If you’re not currently a VOXI customer, you can order a VOXI SIM card online. To activate it, you’ll need to buy a UK plan such as the £10 plan with 30GB of UK data. Even when you take this into account, it ends up being pretty good value (e.g. a total of £25 for the initial £10 UK plan and then £15 for the Global Roaming Extra).
There’s no contract and no credit check on VOXI. Although you’re able to continue using the SIM card when you get back to the UK, there’s no commitment and you can pause or cancel your plan at any time.
You can also get special deals for roaming in Turkey on the following UK networks:
- Vodafone UK Pay As You Go: Like VOXI, Vodafone UK also offers an 8-day and 15-day Around The World Extra if you’re a Pay As You Go customer. It’s exactly the same as what you’ll get on VOXI, but the original UK plan will give you much less data for your money. You can order a Vodafone Pay As You Go SIM card online. To buy the Extra, you can text ROAMEXTRA8 to 2345 (for the 8-day Around The World Extra), or ROAMEXTRA15 to 2345 (for the 15-day Around The World Extra).
- Sky Mobile: If you’re a Sky Mobile customer, you’ll pay £2 per day to use the Roaming Passport Plus in Turkey. This allows you to use your normal UK allowance of minutes, texts and data in Turkey. If you’re not currently a Sky Mobile customer, you can get a Sky Mobile SIM card from £6 per month (subject to a minimum 12-month contract).
- Vodafone UK Pay Monthly: If you’re a Vodafone UK Pay Monthly customer, you’ll pay £6 per day to use your normal allowances in Turkey. This is unless you have an unlimited data plan with 4 Xtra benefits, in which case you’ll get Global Roaming Plus. This comes with inclusive roaming in 83 destinations, including Turkey.
- O2 Pay Monthly: If you’re an O2 Pay Monthly customer, you can pay £6 per day to use the O2 Travel bolt-on in Turkey. This gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data, subject to a maximum download speed of 500kbps (0.5Mbps).
Standard Roaming Rates
If your current provider doesn’t have any special roaming offers for Turkey, the following table shows the standard roaming rates you can expect to pay:
|Network||Making a Phone Call||Receiving a Phone Call||Sending a Text||Accessing the Internet|
|BT Mobile||£1.59/minute||£1.42/minute||44p/text||£6/day for 500MB|
|EE||£2.05/minute||£2.05/minute||67p/text||£6.85/day for 500MB|
|Sky Mobile||£2/day to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts & data|
|Vodafone Pay Monthly||£6/day to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts & data|
|Vodafone Pay As You Go||60p/minute||36p/minute||8p/text||12p/MB|
|VOXI (without Extra)||60p/minute||36p/minute||8p/text||12p/MB|
The average UK smartphone user can normally expect to consume about 100MB (0.1GB) of mobile data each day. Therefore, the costs of roaming in Turkey can add up very quickly unless you have a suitable deal for roaming.
Buying A Turkish SIM Card On Arrival
The other way to use your mobile phone in Turkey is to buy a local SIM card on arrival. This can sometimes work out to be a little bit cheaper, but there can be quite a lot of additional hassle involved.
Here are the four things worth knowing before you buy a local SIM card in Turkey:
- You’ll need to buy your SIM card on arrival, with prices varying based on location and negotiation. You’ll need to pay an upfront fee when buying a local SIM card in Turkey. This price will vary from shop to shop (e.g. it might be cheaper in the city centre but you’re less likely to get support in English, whereas you can expect to pay a lot more at airport). The upfront cost of the SIM card can vary from 40 Turkish Lira (about £2) to 200 Turkish Lira (about £9) or more. In some shops, you may also be charged commission on the airtime credit (kontör) purchase. For instance, you may be charged 22 Turkish Lira for a top-up of 20 Lira.
- You’ll need to register your SIM card with the Turkish authorities. You’ll need to provide your passport and will need to fill out a government registration form before you’re able to get a local SIM card in Turkey.
- You’ll need to pay a mobile phone registration fee of around 2,000 Lira within 120 days when using a local Turkish SIM card. If you’d like to use your mobile phone with a local Turkish SIM card, you’ll need to pay a registration fee of about 2,000 Turkish Lira (approximately £87). You can do this by visiting your nearest tax office (vergi ofisi) to pay the registration fee. For a short one-off visit, this is something you can choose to ignore as the registration fee will only be due 120 days after you first use your phone in Turkey. However, if you do not pay the registration fee, you will not be able to use your mobile phone on future trip to Turkey (it will be barred until you pay the fee). If you’re roaming on a UK-based SIM card, this registration fee won’t apply to you.
- You won’t get inclusive calls back to the UK. Most local SIM cards in Turkey will only give you inclusive minutes for calling other phone numbers in Turkey.
The primary benefit of getting a local SIM card in Turkey is the fact you’ll get a local phone number (starting with +90). This can be beneficial for staying in touch locally. In addition, you’ll normally get a larger data allowance included, compared to if you were roaming on a UK-based SIM card. For instance, you can get 20GB data on a local tourist SIM card (versus 2GB or 4GB data when you roam on a UK-based SIM).
Turkcell is Turkey’s largest mobile network. They tend to offer the most widespread coverage (especially if you’re travelling outside of the urban areas).
As a tourist, you can buy Turkcell’s Tourist Welcome Pack. This gives you 200 minutes for calling locally and 20GB of mobile data. You’ll also get unlimited data for messaging on WhatsApp.
Once you have a Turkcell SIM card, you’ll pay 169 Turkish Lira (about £8) for the Tourist Welcome Pack. This is valid for up to 30 days of usage in Turkey.
valid for 30 days
Find a Turkcell store to get your Tourist Welcome Pack SIM card.
Vodafone Türkiye is the second largest mobile network in Turkey. Although it’s part of the Vodafone Group, it’s run as a totally separate business from Vodafone UK.
As a tourist, you’ll be able to get the Vodafone Prepaid Tourist Pack. This comes with 750 minutes for calling within Turkey, 1000 local text messages and 20GB data. You’ll pay 80 Turkish Lira for the plan (plus the cost of your SIM card).
valid for 30 days
Please note: if your handset is locked to Vodafone’s UK network, you’ll need to unlock it before you can use a Vodafone Turkey SIM card. This doesn’t apply if you’re using a Vodafone UK or VOXI UK SIM card.
Türk Telekom is the smallest mobile network in Turkey. Previously known as Avea, they tend to offer slightly patchier coverage compared to Turkcell and Vodafone Türkiye (particularly outside of the major urban areas).
On Türk Telekom, there isn’t a specific SIM card for tourists. Instead, you can just buy one of their regular prepaid plans. You can visit a Türk Telekom retail store to get your Türk Telekom SIM card.
Handset & Network Compatibility
If you’re currently using your mobile phone in the UK, it will also be compatible with the mobile networks in Turkey. This is because the mobile networks in Turkey use the same bands and frequencies that are in use within the UK.
The following table shows the bands and frequencies that are in use in Turkey:
|Network Provider||4G Bands||3G Bands||2G Bands|
|Turkcell||LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20||WCDMA 2100||GSM 900|
|Vodafone Türkiye||LTE bands 3, 7, 8, 38||WCDMA 2100||GSM 900, 1800|
|Türk Telekom||LTE bands 3, 7, 8, 20, 38||WCDMA 2100||GSM 1800|
5G technology is currently being trialled in Turkey. However, it is not currently available for everyday use.
You can check your handset manufacturer’s spec sheet to see a list of bands supported by your phone.
If you’re using a different SIM card for the duration of your trip abroad, you’ll need to make sure your handset is unlocked.